3 Reasons Google and Other Fortune 500 Companies Have Great Workplace Cultures

It is no coincidence that many of the most profitable companies in the world also have the happiest, most engaged employees and the most positive workplace cultures. Google, Starbucks, Whole Foods Market and Aflac top the list of the eighteen best Fortune 500 companies to work for in part due to a dedication to making their workplaces great ones.

How did these large corporations create such an amazing workplace culture? What can we learn from them?

George Bradt, Contributor for Forbes, isolated three things that these eighteen companies all seem to do extremely well to make their employees loyal and happy.

They Clearly Demonstrate Their Appreciation for Employees

A quick display of appreciation can go a long way. It doesn’t even have to cost a penny or take more than two minutes of your time. The ways that you can show appreciation for your team are quite diverse.

There is the unconventional. Google gives out 100,000 hours worth of free massages to employees over a one-year period. Then there’s the free. The vice chair of NetApp calls 10-20 employees a day to tell them that they are doing a good job.

Other companies such as Qualcomm hold internal tech conferences to foster a sharing of knowledge and ideas. Administering safety bonuses, personalizing notes, booking special luncheons, recognizing and supporting diversity, offering low-cost insurance for part-time employees and setting up health and wellness centers are other interesting ways that companies say “we appreciate you!”

Takeaway: Showing appreciation for your employees can take a wide variety of forms and fit into any budget. Consistency is the key with appreciation programs.

They Give Employees Access to Leadership and Information

The tie between being a good place to work and consistent employee appreciation is quite logical, but this next theme might not be as obvious. Bradt finds that granting employees open access to senior leadership and company information is the second most common way that companies make their employees happy.

John Richels of Devon Energy said he gives his employees time with senior executives as often as possible. Whole Foods empowers employees in very unique ways. Employees have the option to vote on new hires, take field trips to visit suppliers and even view the salary of every employee in the company!

CarMax CEO Tom Folliard is known for mingling at town hall meetings and steak cookouts. CHWM Hill CEO Lee McIntire takes it to a new level. He posts his personal development plan on the company intranet!

Takeaway: Break down the barriers and allow communication to flow freely in your organization. Your executives should be accessible and open to suggestions from all levels. Transparency can also be important for companies that pride themselves on their integrity.

They Reward Employees for Their Achievements

Rewarding employees for their achievements is something that should always be a priority. At EOG, every employee is given stock. Not only is the stock a nice reward, but it is also a way to give an employee more reason to care about the success of the company. Their stock has risen 500% in the past decade, so it appears to be working.

Starbucks gives benefits and stock options to all employees who work at least twenty hours per week. The company culture emphasizes how it is possible for all employees to move up the ladder.

Other companies give their top performing employees travel incentives, merchandise and gift cards.

Takeaway: Employees who are rewarded and have a stake in the success of the company will typically perform at higher levels.

Is your company doing a particularly good job in any of these three areas? Feel free to share other ways your company has been successful in showing appreciation, granting access and rewarding your employees by commenting below. Also, please feel free to send me an email at khewkin@jnrcorp.com for more suggestions or to sign up for our newsletter.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “google_logo” by keso s is licensed under CC By 2.0

The 7 Best Tech Companies to Work For in 2014…And Why

Early this year, Lisa Bernier, a freelance writer who has written for a number of respected publications, compiled a list of The 7 Best Tech Companies to Work for in a Mashable article that was shared over eleven thousand times.

We want to take a look into what make these companies amazing places to work for and what other companies (maybe even yours) can learn from their employee engagement policies.

So, who made the list?

  1. Elite SEM – Search engine marketing
  2. Interactive Intelligence – Global provider of call center technologies and software solutions
  3. Twitter – An introduction is probably not necessary for this online social networking and microblogging giant
  4. 360i – Digital agency specializing in search engine marketing, social media, mobile marketing, and web design and development
  5. Text100 – Digital marketing agency that creates communications campaigns
  6. Crowdtap – Social Influence Marketing platform
  7. Google – One of most admired companies in the entire world

Unless you’re in the market for a new tech job and searching for places to submit a resume, the more important takeaway here is to learn something about what it takes to create a great company.

What makes these companies great places to work?

These companies all do a remarkable job of showing their employees how much they are appreciated. By creating an environment that fosters the advancement of their employee’s careers, leading companies yield an engaged, loyal, and productive workforce. This has worked so well for Elite SEM that they have had no turnover since their inception in 2004.

The ability to maintain an engaged workforce through employees who genuinely feel appreciated and inspired can result in higher profit margins for companies.  This is due to the strong relationship that exists between the financial performance of a company and employee engagement. Higher levels of commitment from employees who feel like their work is valued tends to increase office efficiency. In addition, it creates a culture of hardworking employees who feel connected to one another.

Engaged employees have 18% higher productivity and 60% higher quality work than under-engaged employees (Insync Survey).

While excellent salaries and benefits, effective leadership, and an emphasis on work-life balance are major factors making these companies pleasant to work for, unconventional, but highly effective, incentives are also utilized heavily by these innovative companies.

Elite SEM takes its staff on an annual “Fun Week” – during which employees are treated to a seven-day vacation with recreational activities. This use of incentive travel creates memorable experiences as a reward to valued employees and is proven to be more effective at motivating employees, increasing sales and strengthening employee loyalty than cash rewards. The emotional and psychological importance employees place on non-cash rewards can be far greater and remembered much longer than cash bonuses. Merchandise awards can produce a similar effect when the budget for travel is not present.

Other notable ways these companies create happy employees include: book clubs, telecommuting options, profit sharing, flexibility in schedules, and impromptu days off when necessary. Google has become very well known for having amazing on-site facilities including sports complexes, 24/7 gyms, free food, and free laundry/dry cleaning services. Possibly the most fascinating benefit that Google extends relates to the death of employees. If an employee passes away during their employment, the company will pay 50% of the salary of that employee to their spouse or domestic partner for a full decade!

Employees that feel valued and appreciated exert greater effort, stay with companies longer and are strong brand advocates. The businesses on this list understand and leverage this power to their advantage.

For more on employee engagement, check out this fascinating study of The 10 US Cities with The Highest Levels of Employee Engagement.

By JNR Corp

Written by Stephanie Thomas